Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

A lot of people seem to be interested in North Korean cultural diplomacy these days, so the (often peer-reviewed/probably badly flawed/usually enormously fun) work which I have been doing on this issue for the last decade has allowed me to say a few not completely ignorant things about it for a wider public. [Updated 6 April 2018:] This morning I spoke about it with Canada’s … Continue reading Notes on North Korean Musical Exchanges and Internal Narratives

On the disbandment of the DPRK’s Unhasu Orchestra and the reported death of several of its members

With respect to the matter of the Unhasu Orchestra “executions” which has been bubbling about since late August 2013, augmented by  JoongAng Ilbo reports of “stadium executions” in Wonsan in November 2013, and raised again with reports of grizzly executions of yet more musicians in spring 2015: Obviously, none of us is in possession of anything resembling a conclusive data point which would prove or … Continue reading On the disbandment of the DPRK’s Unhasu Orchestra and the reported death of several of its members

String Crossings: Tracking the Evolution of North Korea’s Moranbong Band

One of the advantages of staying at the top North Korean hotel in Shenyang, the Chilbosan, is that the nightly broadcasts from Pyongyang are available in real time. Earlier this month, I made a visit to the hotel and was rewarded with a news broadcast from Pyongyang which featured highly the return of the Moranbong Band. The first violin/concertmaster Sonu Hyang-hui finally reappeared with the … Continue reading String Crossings: Tracking the Evolution of North Korea’s Moranbong Band